East Carolina outfielder Bryson Worrell wasn’t able to finish Friday’s NCAA Greenville regional game because of his hurting shoulder. On Saturday, he was instrumental in the Pirates beating Charlotte, 7-5, in a thrilling game for the team’s most important win of the season.
Adrenaline helped him play the entire night and help vault the Pirates to the championship round of the regional. Worrell’s performance was reminiscent of what Pirate outfielder Devin Harris did against South Carolina at the Clark-LeClair Stadium 2009 regional with a home run-robbing catch in the outfield and later, a ninth-inning, game-tying home run in a memorable win.
Worrell’s banged-up body rocked against the Clark-LeClair Stadium center field wall during the fifth inning for a home run-saving grab that would have made it 5-2 Charlotte. ECU’s go-ahead, three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth included Worrell ripping a game-tying double down the right field line.
“It was pretty much all adrenaline,” he said. “When you go out there and have 5,000 people screaming at you when you’re hitting and on defense, it makes it a lot easier to not feel the pain.”
Attendance was 5,020. It was 5,017 the next night for the championship game, which the Pirates won 9-6 over Maryland.
Worrell, a junior center fielder, was not in ECU coach Cliff Godwin’s initial starting lineup versus the No. 2 seed 49ers. That changed before first pitch.
“He said he felt better than yesterday and he could go,” Godwin said. “I said, ‘Hey man, I trust you, but you have to promise me you can really go.’ He promised me he can go. How about that catch he made over the wall? That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen in my life.
“Just that toughness. He’s grown up so much. He’s been here four years and he’s a tremendous athlete, but the toughness he has shown the past couple of days and not feeling good makes me proud. The guy is pouring his heart and soul in to trying to help us win.”
Lane Hoover followed Worrell’s double with a go-ahead, two-run single to make it 7-5, scoring Zach Agnos and Worrell.
Worrell finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk, one day after he was 0-for-1 with a walk and was pulled for a pinch hitter during an 8-5 win over Norfolk State. Worrell went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts Sunday night before being replaced by Ryley Johnson.
The all-regional team included Worrell joined by teammates Connor Norby (second base), Agnos (third base), Hoover (outfield) and relief pitcher Matt Bridges, who was named Most Outstanding Player thanks to two saves and a pitching victory.
“Man, it’s been a long year with COVID and having to go through protocols and four-game weekends in the (American Athletic) Conference, so what I said last week was this group is as battle-tested as any team that has ever been here under my watch,” said seventh-year coach Godwin, who has guided ECU to three super regionals since 2015. “They have been through a lot. They’ve been through injuries, they’ve been through COVID protocols and no fans and been through four-game weekends.
“This is super special. I’m happy for our fans. The fans were awesome the past two nights. It was electric.”